I knew it would be bad. I didn’t know it would be this bad. In Chardon, Ohio, there’s red everywhere. It covers my neighbors’ porches. It’s even in grocery stores. People don’t hide the over-pouring of red, red, red. No, they wallow in it. They paint their bodies RED. Folks, I’ve moved to Buckeye country.

But there’s more … There’s orange and brown, like dying leaves falling from trees. Nobody looks good wearing orange and brown. Nobody. Still, there are flags of brown that shiver in the fall breeze. There are orange bumperstickers. You know who to blame: the Cleveland Browns.

As many of you know, I love football. I live for football season, and this year, Jake and I have been overwhelmed by the joy of wearing hoodies and drinking pumpkin beer on Sunday afternoons. In Phoenix, football season never felt quite right, because for most of it, the air outside still burned at 90 degrees. We didn’t have stormy football time; we had sunshine and blue skies–which just ain’t right for football season. It’s just not normal.

I am thrilled to be here in Ohio for autumn and football and Halloween, but let’s just say I have a problem. I’m living in sin in Cleveland, and do you know why?

I’m a fan of the Michigan Wolverines and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Growing up in Toledo, Ohio, this wasn’t a big deal, because Toledo is considered a “grey area.” You’re allowed to be a Wolverine in Toledo, and there isn’t an NFL team in our backyard, so we could choose from any number of affiliations: Lions, Bengals, Steelers, etc. The same does not hold true for Cleveland. Cleveland is scarlet and grey; Cleveland is orange and brown.

My first somewhat disturbing experience occurred prior to this NFL season’s opener. I had on my worn Troy Polamalu jersey and was picking up wings for Jake and me at the local bar when a man told me, “I’m going to sell your kidney.” I was informed by other bar patrons, “You can’t wear that shit around here.” I laughed … and ran back to my car.

Then I noticed that Giant Eagle carries every possible thing you might need in scarlet and grey. Jake made me cry when he put on a Browns cap but finally removed the atrocity when I started seizing on the grocery store floor. True, I have happily embraced my beautiful, friendly new community and my wonderful new friends, but I refuse to embrace the local sports.

This season, I will wear my Michigan Wolverines t-shirt and two Steelers jerseys. I will wave my Terrible Towel. But I’ve decided: I will behave. I’ve been known for trash-talking, but I won’t do it. I can’t. I refuse to start a shit storm, and I’ve been warned not to hang any Michigan gear on the outside of my house unless I want it burnt down.

I am an outsider in my new city. A weirdo. That said, I’ve been a “weirdo” my whole life, so not much has changed. I just need to remember to wear sunglasses at Giant Eagle so I don’t go blind and keep the snide comments to myself. I am in Buckeye country; I will respect that. And on November 28th, depending on how things go, I will hide in my basement for fear of kidney thieves.

If you take me apart

I’m only small pieces


Pieces are parts

That make up the whole


What is my arm without my mind?

What are my eyes without my face?


What am I without pain?

What am I without joy?


If you take me apart

I’ll be in pieces


I’ll stay that way

Unless you put me together again …


You will because you love me

And would never let me fall apart

Or stay in pieces for long


(Photos of me thanks to Ben Stadler-Ammon, Devon C. Adams, and Brandon Larkin.)

JUSTIFIED: Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens. CR: Frank Ockenfels III / FX

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens.

Something horrible happened to me this weekend. Truly horrible. I lost two of the most important men in my life: Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder. I’m obviously talking about the TV show Justified.

Justified was a cop drama—sort of. It was an FX gem about bad boy US Marshall Raylan Givens and his ongoing battle with his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky, and the villains therein. It ran for six seasons, based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, “Fire in the Hole.”

Jake and I were in love with the program immediately (and not only because Timothy Olyphant is exceptionally gorgeous and wears really tight pants).

The hero, Raylan Givens, was not a good man. He killed people with a smirk and tip of his exceptionally beautiful cowboy hat. He was the damn king of one-liners. Think Dirty Harry mixed with just about any Sam Elliot Wild West character (minus the enormous moustache).

His nemesis for all six seasons was Boyd Crowder—a childhood friend of Raylan’s, with whom he once “dug coal.” Crowder (played by Walton Goggins) was the odious villain you loved. His monologues were precise and brilliant. When he shot a man right through the eyeball, we cheered, which should probably be disconcerting but wasn’t, because Boyd was just that charismatic.

Justified was riddled with award-worthy dialogue and bad guys you almost rooted for. The Raylan / Boyd relationship was as strong of that as Spock and Captain Kirk, although begrudgingly so, for both men involved. Usually, in our house, an episode would end with hysterical laughter, applause, or total horror at the most recent plot twist.


Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder.

During this final season, season six, I had to pull the reins on my husband because he would constantly want to watch “just one more,” but I knew, in the back of my head, that eventually “one more” would be the series finale—and I wasn’t ready.

The emotions involved here were a lot like those I stumbled over when the final Harry Potter movie was released and I realized … there was no more Harry Potter. Now, there is no more Raylan Givens or Boyd Crowder, and Jake and I just aren’t coping.

Justified’s final season was immaculate. All plot lines were tied up in pretty (bloody) bows, and Sam Elliot even played the big, bad villain! Talk about full circle, considering Olyphant admits to having ripped off Elliot’s mannerisms from the start.

Jake and I continually argued over who was going to end up dead, and we were wrong, of course, because that’s what good writing is: it keeps you guessing. But as the final scene unfolded, I was wholly unprepared for the copious tears. The credits rolled, Jake looked at me, and I just kept crying. Although Jake isn’t a crier, the next morning, he admitted he felt like he was grieving something. We were. I mean, shit, we named our dog Raylan Givens Bauer!

I don’t know that Olyphant or Goggins will ever be better. These were career-defining roles, both men perfect in their places. Our only option, as fans, is to re-watch the entire series, but still, it’s not the same, because we already know the one-liners and surprise action scenes. We know what becomes of Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder, and we can’t go back in time, forget, or start over.

Justified was a show of unbelievable brilliance and deep, dirty character development. Mostly, it was a story of two men who were too similar for their own good—one, on the side of the law; the other, not so much. What I loved so much about Raylan and Boyd: they both could have been criminals, and they both could have been good men. I wasn’t sure which way it would go until those final credits rolled.

Jake has been reading obsessively about the show to fill the aching void in his chest, and apparently during that final scene of season six, all the actors’ tears were real. The cast, the crew—everyone just fell apart because Justified was over. That’s what good entertainment does: it makes you want to sit down and have a drink with the lead characters and shoot that whiskey until the end of time.

Well, the end is now, and as I lavish attention on little Raylan Givens Bauer, I hope he feels the weight of his name, the responsibility to carry on the legacy of one of TV’s best characters. If only I can get him to wear the cowboy hat.

One last look at Raylan and Boyd at their best together:

Downtown Chardon, OH.

Downtown Chardon, OH.

Our house was built in 1929. The wood floors creak. The staircase to my office is deadly in heels, and I tell people there’s a friendly banshee in the basement. In the backyard, a child once requested a swing be hung from a tree; a parent once acquiesced. There’s even a tree with dark purple leaves outside that I can climb barefoot all the way to the top.

Saturday night, I heard a skunk talking to himself on the sidewalk; last nigh, I heard cats having sex in the neighbor’s yard—neighbors who, without knowing my face or name, brought beer over to welcome us to town. Today, the air is wet and smells of rain. We sleep with the windows open under a comforter knit by Grandma Dobie.

Welcome to Chardon, Ohio.

After a four-day trek from Phoenix that felt akin to crossing the deserts of hell, Jake and I arrived in Ohio tired, near hysterical, with two dogs who looked ready to commit parricide. It took two days to unpack, because our twin U-Hauls ended up being the travel equivalent of Mary Poppins’ bag: endless and containing mysterious items we don’t remember packing or, frankly, ever seeing in our lives.

staircaseOnce settled, we realized we lived on a little street with pretty, historic homes, much older than ours. Chardon’s downtown square is within walking distance, cheerful in its quiet quaintness of coffee houses, restaurants, and antique shops.

Approximately 5,000 people call Chardon home. There’s a Fall Fest where people get together to walk around and look at red, orange, and yellow trees and carve pumpkins. There’s a December lighting ceremony that turns the downtown square into a snowy, twinkle-filled wonderland. The Geauga County Maple Fest is the big deal in April, because yes, in Chardon, people make their own maple syrup, caught by tying metal buckets to the sides of Maple trees in winter.

There’s an apple orchard nearby. There’s a restaurant downtown called Square Bistro, whose chef was once a chef in the Biltmore area of Phoenix. (Small world.) A local cottage serves afternoon tea to passers-by. There is a known “sledding hill” where everyone goes every snow day. Speaking of snow, during WinterFest, a horse-drawn carriage circles the Chardon Square while artists carve ice sculptures.

One local lady said, “I love living here. I love not having to lock my car door.” When I was at the grocery yesterday, the deli lady was busy and apologetic, and a middle-aged lady told her, “Take as long as you need,” and stood there, smiling.

living roomWhen Raylan (our rambunctious pup) accidentally ate rat poison on Saturday, I ran into my front yard and shouted to see if anyone had hydrogen peroxide to make him hurl. A neighbor rushed to his rescue from across the street.

Have I moved to some strange, perfect place where aliens are taking over the population, or did I just forget what it’s like living in the rural Midwest? More research required.

At the moment, it’s still hard to believe we’re really here. Jake started his new job yesterday. Our friend, Heather, brought over a basket of “Welcome to Chardon” goodies, including local honey, local maple syrup, local pie … you get the idea.

I have Internet, so I suppose that means we really do live here, surrounded by green trees and a pink rosebush next to the front porch.

If I could look at a map, I know there would be a red X with the words “YOU ARE HERE,” but this peaceful, beautiful place is almost too good to be true—not to mention my beloved family is only two hours away, which I never in my wildest dreams thought would happen again.

It’s like the Twilight Zone, this stormy day, scented by wet leaves and moss, as I sit and write in the creaky, old house I’ve always wanted and never quite knew I wanted. It’s quiet. The dogs snore nearby and cuddle close at night.

Welcome to Chardon.

The town, the trees, the people shout the words until Heaven responds and gives me rain.

I climb the purple one.

Our backyard of trees. I climb the purple one.

chicken-soupAs many of you know, a big part of my life in Arizona was prison ministry, but I wasn’t peddling religion; I brought books behind bars. For three years, I was honored to be a Gina’s Team book club volunteer at Perryville Prison. I wrote about the experience sparingly, but thanks to writer friend Beth Cato, I eventually sent something about Perryville to Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Miraculously, it was accepted, which was amazing to me, since my short fiction usually revolves around sex, violence, or romantic, gay cannibals.

Tomorrow, Chicken Soup releases its most recent collection, Volunteering & Giving Back, in which my essay, “Hope in Orange,” is among many featured pieces. I suggest you buy the edition, not only for my work, but for the inspirational stories of so many others doing good out there in the dark, scary world.

For your reading pleasure, you’ll find an excerpt below. Read it and head to Amazon and order your copy of Volunteering & Giving Back. Then, do one better: find some way to get involved in your community. Find a way to make a difference. It’s worth it, and if you’re doing it right, you’ll soon realize the people you help are actually helping you. This essay is wholeheartedly dedicated to the women in orange of Perryville Prison.

“Hope in Orange”

by Sara Dobie Bauer

(Featured in its entirety in Chicken Soup for the Soul.)

Perryville Prison is located on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona. Surrounded by desolation—dried desert and mountains of dirt—the prison could be hell, except people don’t leave hell whereas they do leave Perryville. And often return.

I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe Perryville Prison is haunted by the women themselves. The ghosts of the past surround their heads like teased hair, and I see reflections of loved ones in the edges of their eyes.

Dear friend Sue Ellen Allen harassed me (in a good way) for a year before I finally agreed to volunteer at Perryville. Sue Ellen, an ex-con herself, started a book club during her lengthy tenure at Perryville, and what better place for a writer like me than a book club?

Why the initial hesitation? Was it because my father was once a parole officer? No, although he wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of his daughter working with ex-cons. Was it because I don’t like to volunteer? No. The main reason I didn’t want to volunteer at Perryville Prison was because I was scared.

I had visions of Con Air. I just knew I would end up running from some Steve Buscemi freak show. Or maybe end up murdered. Or kidnapped. Something. Because to an outsider, that’s what prison is—a dark, scary place filled with hardened criminals who know how to turn a toothbrush into a lethal weapon. Was I wrong? Of course.

(Read more by ordering your copy today: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering & Giving Back.)

When I write romance, I tend to fall in love with the male lead. “A Good Match” is no exception, but I had no idea how hard my first readers were going to fall for Lord George Carleton.

I’ll admit there was real-life inspiration. When Benedict Cumberbatch showed up in the media months ago with a slick, new super-short haircut, I fell out of my office chair. George was born (and, yeah, I even stole one of Benny’s four names, Carleton, for my character).

Now that I’ve admitted to the shallow inspiration for this story, I can attest that it’s so much more than some crappy fan fiction. Our heroine, Miss Alice Abbott, is a writer and feminist long before her time, and she takes shit from nobody–not even George, no matter how much she likes the look of him.

Alice fears the manacles of marriage and with good reason. So will Lord Carleton woo her, or will she send him back to London empty-handed?

I’ve given you a tease below, but for the whole story, you’ll have to pay up over at Romance Magazine. Trust me, you’ll want to see how this one turns out. (And, for the record, this is possibly the first PG-rated story I’ve ever written. Cheers!)

Teaser scene from “A Good Match”

By Sara Dobie Bauer

(Published by Romance Magazine.)

Amidst the crowds of well-dressed, rich young women and their hopeful mothers and fathers, Tilly Fox found Alice with speed. If Alice had a friend, it would be Tilly, although their relationship had changed greatly since Tilly’s marriage to the older, wiser Lord Deacon Fox.

Tilly grabbed onto Alice. “I’m so happy you’re here. Deacon won’t stop parading me around like a show horse.”

They linked arms and moved further into the party.

“My husband said he saw you out riding today by yourself. I can’t believe Gertrude allows such a thing. As your guardian, she should know better.”

“Oh, Tilly, Gertrude has much bigger things to worry about than her niece being stolen by a highwayman. Like her cross stitch, for instance.”

“She is too soft with you.”

“Since becoming a wife, you fret too much,” Alice said.

“That’s all I do: fret about the dinner setting, the window treatments, the servants … Deacon trying to sneak into my room at night, the ghastly man.”

Alice shushed her friend but laughed despite herself.

“Speaking of men, no sight of Lord Carleton as of yet. All these women here waiting, and I hardly believe he exists.”

“Perhaps he doesn’t,” Alice said. “Then, the young women of Duxbury can all go home and stop smiling and cooing like pigeons.”

“Oh, Alice, you have such a distaste for these things. Just wait: one day, you’ll meet some man, and you’ll ride into the sunset with him on the back of his horse.”

“I can ride my own horse, thank you.” Alice kept her hand tightly around her clutch.

the_duchess_23926“You know Deacon can hardly ride a horse anymore, what with his grand bottom. I swear it grows by the day.” Tilly laughed, but Alice knew she made no joke.

Across the ballroom, Gertrude spoke to the Dawson’s—the hosts—a very attractive pair who managed to stay slim and youthful despite the lazy lifestyle of the upper crust: one of rich food, servants, and social events. Alice recognized many of the other young women of Duxbury, too, dressed to impress. The whole room seemed on edge. Eyes flitted back and forth. Women whispered behind handheld, feathered fans, all because some spoiled London lord sought a wife.

“Lord Carleton is supposedly an accomplished horseman,” Tilly continued. “I understand local girls have been practicing their skills all week.”

“Good for them.” Alice shook loose of her friend’s grip. “Would you excuse me? I’ll be but a moment.”

“Alice …”

“Just some air, Tilly. I am overwhelmed by perfume and arrogance.” She winked and made her way slowly, calmly through the crowd.

Alice knew the Dawson house well, having spent not only parties but also childhood weekends wandering the halls with the now all-married Dawson girls. She knew how to sneak past servants and up a back set of darkened steps that led to the library of the great Lord Dawson himself.

She let herself in and there, as always, on the edge of his desk, she found Dawson’s pile of letters, prepared for the post, to be taken into the city the following morn. Alice reached into her clutch and pulled out a thick letter of her own, addressed to the London Times. She was careful to shove her own envelope between so many others to escape notice. Then, she quickly left the room.

Scattered candles dimly lit the hallway outside the library. A quadrille played below. She hurried to return to the ball, although no one would miss her in such a crowd, except perhaps Gertrude. However, in her haste to turn the corner, she did not notice a man hopping on one foot until she ran into him and almost knocked him over.

She made a small shocked noise.

He was obviously in the midst of getting dressed—or perhaps, redressed? His black suit jacket was on his shoulders, but the top buttons of his white shirt were undone. His tie was loose, as was his vest. He had on one muddy shoe and hopped to get out of the other, leaving a dirty trail behind.

When he felt her, heard her, he paused and stood straight.

His grand height and the unconventional length of his light brown hair surprised Alice. He wore his coif short, scandalously so. She’d never seen a man with such short hair before, and, as it was, so messy. And was that a burr above his ear?

He smiled at her, which was when she noticed his face was covered in dirt.

Alice put her hand to her mouth and laughed at the ridiculous sight of a grown man so closely resembling a naughty little boy.

“Excuse me,” he said and disappeared down the hall with one shoe in-hand … but not before she saw another quick flash of white teeth.


“Where have you been?” Gertrude grabbed her arm as soon as Alice reappeared downstairs. “At least your cheeks look rosy.”

Alice wondered why.

“His Lordship will be making his appearance any moment. You must be prepared.”

Gertrude could not have been more right, for as soon as they arrived in the center of the ballroom, voices hushed. Somewhere, near the grand staircase, Lord Carleton must have emerged.

Tilly stood on Alice’s other side. “Can you see him?”

Although Alice was taller than Tilly, she still couldn’t see over the crowd. “No. Apparently, he is not a giant.” Before Tilly could respond, Gertrude dragged Alice forward. Her auntie was nothing if not ambitious.

Alice knew the order of things: it was imperative they find the receiving line. Gertrude must have assumed the line was on the other side of the stairs, because she kept moving, moving, fast as her little legs would take her, until she brushed against Lord Dawson and suddenly stopped.

Alice’s shoes came to a swift skid on the marble floor, and she found herself staring up into the mischievous, translucent blue eyes of the disheveled man from upstairs. He was not disheveled any longer. His suit, tie, and vest were in perfect condition, and even his too-short hair was more organized and minus the burr.

black and white“Oh. Lady Essex.” Lord Dawson cleared his throat and ran two fingers across his dark moustache. Alice recognized the irritation in his tone, but she was preoccupied, studying the slim, young man before her. “Lady Gertrude Essex, I present to you Lord George Carleton.”

Gertrude grasped tight to the opportunity. “Lord Carleton, may I introduce my niece, Miss Alice Abbott.”

For Alice, the ballroom went silent when their eyes met. She made the immediate decision: she much preferred the man dirty and half-dressed. At the memory of their upstairs meeting, she bit the insides of her cheeks to keep from laughing. For his part, Lord Carleton appeared to be attempting the same, although his was a losing battle.

He took a step forward. “Miss Abbott.” His voice was deeper than the Thames.

Out of obligation, she raised her white-gloved hand, which he took and kissed. “Lord Carleton.”

Traditionally, the guest of honor moved swiftly down the line and met everyone in quick succession before round after round of dance and drink. Seemingly, the young lord decided to break with tradition, as he stood there for several moments, studying her. Alice felt her cheeks go warm.

“Are you enjoying yourself this evening, Miss Abbott?” He folded his hands behind his back.

“Surely not as much as you, Lord Carleton.” She bowed her head and looked back up at him.

The amusement never left his face, even as he glanced at her garish necklace. “I see you are a woman of luxurious tastes.”

“Is that a clever way of enquiring as to the status of my dowry, my Lord?”

Gertrude literally croaked like a frog.

Lord Carleton paused and then smiled a huge, joyous grin that made Alice’s breath catch in her chest. The little grin upstairs had been lovely, but this … She felt as if all the blood in her body rushed to her head.

He continued to smile. “A shrewd intellect is worth much more than a dowry, Miss Abbott.”

“Women are not supposed to have intellect, Lord Carleton. We are supposed to have sewing skills.”

Shudders of conversation erupted around them, but the young lord seemed distracted by her words. His light brows furrowed, and he looked at Alice as if he knew her, quite intimately, which made her heart do strange flips and turns she’d never felt before.

He was then ushered away.

Later, after much forced dancing and conversation with other traveling men from London, Alice was back in the carriage where Gertrude shouted and screamed and finally cried with the fear that her niece would ultimately die poor and unmarried.

Alone in her room that night, after the servants dutifully removed the layers of satin and lace—and unbound her breasts from the cruel corset—Alice sat on the floor near the fire and caressed her wrist. Her skin was warm to the touch, she knew, not because of the fire but because of Lord Carleton. He made her insides flutter in a way her intellect never allowed her to entertain. She was quite relieved she would never see him again, although she admitted: she was curious as to why he’d been covered in dirt.


When the letter arrived the next morning, Essex House went into uproar. Lord George Carleton requested a private meeting with Lady Gertrude Essex and her niece, Alice Abbott. He would be there that very afternoon.

Alice held tight to the bedpost; meanwhile, her aunt tugged and groaned as she pulled her corset strings.

“Why on Earth does he want to come … see … me?” Alice grunted as Gertrude continued to tug.

“He’s obviously taken with you.”

“I won’t allow it.”

Gertrude pulled even harder. “What?”

“I won’t allow it. Nothing of the sort. I will be particularly horrible when he arrives to get rid of that horrible man.”

Gertrude stopped tugging, which made Alice close her eyes.

“He didn’t seem very horrible,” her aunt said tauntingly.

Alice spun around. Like a child, she stomped her foot, because there was nothing horrible about Lord George Carleton. In the space of a moment, in fact, Alice thought of several things distinctly not horrible about the man, like his eyes, his smile, the way he’d made her laugh by hopping around on one muddy foot …

“Granted,” Gertrude said, “the young man wears his hair much too short. He smiles too easily for a gentleman. He may seem a bit unconventional, but he is coming here to see you, and you will be on your best behavior.”

Alice sighed.


(There you go! Just a tease! Read the rest in Romance Magazine.)

I won’t call it a mental illness, but if I was to name how I’ve felt for the past year, I guess you could call it “Desert Fever.” As of today, Jake and I have lived in Arizona for a little over five years. Amazing friends have been made; amazing things have happened (including our wedding). I owe my fantastic career to Phoenix. I would almost call her My Muse. Still, something has been missing …

In October, it’s still 90 degrees outside. Trees don’t change color. The sky isn’t the color of a dirty puddle, and the air doesn’t smell live clove. It is distinctly un-horror-movie-like at Halloween time in Phoenix.

In December, the sun refuses to go away. There are blue skies everyday. Christmas feels fake and forced, because everyone knows, Christmas is supposed to be cold and white. You’re supposed to want hot chocolate, not iced coffee.

In April, it doesn’t rain. The grass doesn’t grow green, and flowers don’t bloom. Instead, everything prepares to die, because summer is coming, and summer carries with it the oppressive sensation of being burnt alive.

My Desert Fever involved more than weather, though; it has been about family. My blood relatives are, for the most part, on the east coast, as are all of my oldest friends. Sadly, two of our biggest family occasions since I’ve lived out here have been funerals, so basically, I’ve been paying Southwest to let me cry a lot.

Jake was the one who first suggested we move east. (He was probably sick of me watching all my horror movies, obsessively, because they always take place in the Midwest around Halloween, and I longed, longed to be someplace that looked like the places in my scary movies.) Deep inside me, there has been a longing for small town life again. Lack of rush hour traffic. Backyards not brimmed by concrete walls. Not having to travel 50 minutes to meet a friend for lunch.

This is not to say I dislike Phoenix. I’ve fallen in love with her over the years. I love her downtown, her Day of the Dead, her restaurants, and the smell of creosote after a monsoon. I’ve enjoyed getting to use the word “haboob” and eating authentic Mexican food surrounded by artful graffiti in the shape of skulls (my favorite).

Then, while on a “vision quest” road trip three weeks ago, Jake got the job offer of his dreams at a farm outside of Chardon, Ohio, near Cleveland. He called me while I was on my way to my college reunion in Athens, over the moon. Just like that, it was official: we were heading back to my home state.

We’re moving in two weeks. Have I had moments of terrific panic? Yes. Been a bit weepy lately? Of course. But not because I’m leaving Phoenix; it’s because, again, just like when we left Charleston, I’m leaving friends. I know it doesn’t do to stretch things out. It’s okay that we’re leaving in two weeks, but it is odd when you have a beer with someone you care about and realize this will be the last beer … possibly for a very long time.

I will miss things about living here. I will miss, most of all, my friends. I will miss being an active volunteer for Gina’s Team (even though I hope to continue my prison book clubs elsewhere). I will miss the food, the photo shoot fun, and the well-hidden dive bars.

But for the first time since I left Ohio ages ago, I will have a proper Halloween this year, complete with falling leaves and clove-scented rainstorms. I will have snow and the possibility of a white Christmas. I will have April showers and a green backyard filled with trees. Speaking of, maybe I’ll leap into an autumn leaf pile. Maybe I’ll try to teach my dogs how to make snow angels and buy them little sweaters. And my parents and auntie will be a two-hour drive away, as will friends I’ve kept since first grade.

There will be going away parties the weekend of the 14th: one Friday and one Saturday. I am available for impromptu happy hours and hugs. I will not leave this city without letting people know I love them and value them and will never forget them. But it’s time to go home. Home.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 132 other followers

%d bloggers like this: